Tottenham were expected to return to “normality” in a three-game run against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal but have proved their doubters wrong, says Jose Mourinho.
Spurs claimed the north London derby bragging rights as a stunning strike from Son Heung-min and a thumping effort from Harry Kane – his 250th goal for club and country and a record 11th against Arsenal – secured a 2-0 win on Sunday.
The victory sent Mourinho’s team back to the top of the Premier League, where they will stay for at least the week barring Liverpool beating Wolves by an unlikely nine goals.
Mourinho’s team, who had 30.8 per cent possession against Arsenal but allowed just two attempts on target, both of which were well saved by Hugo Lloris, have now picked up seven points from their past three league matches, having drawn against Chelsea and beaten Manchester City.
Tottenham’s boss had previously referred to his side as a “pony” in the title race and was asked if that opinion had now changed.
“We have three more points than we had. We grew up,” a smiling Mourinho told Sky Sports.
“I can imagine a lot of people think that three matches in a row – City, Chelsea, Arsenal – would be a moment for us to drop points and to go back to ‘normality’, but we didn’t go back to ‘normality’.
“We won seven points out of nine and we are there, we just are there. I believe one more week at the top, unless Liverpool win by many [goals], and against Wolves, they won’t win by many.”
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 6, 2020
Tottenham managed just six touches in Arsenal’s area, with Kane restricted to three in the Gunners’ 18-yard box. Indeed, the England captain had more touches in his own final third, as he helped Spurs defend nine corners.
“Working like animals, with all the respect to animals – I love animals, don’t get me wrong – but working amazingly hard when the team didn’t have the ball,” Mourinho said of his goalscorers Kane and Son.
“Kane clearing balls in the box. Sonny in the first 60 minutes working a lot on [Hector] Bellerin and then as a second striker working their centre-backs.
“This is not just about scoring goals. Them being world-class players, they are also great guys, great professionals that give everything for the team.”
Though he believes his side were worthy winners, Mourinho praised Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, whose team sit 15th, 11 points behind their local rivals.
“I want to give congratulations to Mikel, because he gave us a very difficult game, because they were tactically very organised, they gave us problems,” he said.
“Problems we managed to solve because at this moment the players have good tactical culture and above that they have an incredible spirit, but they gave us problems because they are a good team and he is a good coach.
“I am very happy with the result, with the performance, but of course I want the team to be able to play in a different way, but in reality sometimes you don’t do what you want to do because the opponent forces you in a certain direction and of course it was a moment not to take any risks.
“You are winning 2-0, why are you going to expose your defensive block if you don’t have to? It was a very difficult game, when to change, what to do. I can imagine tomorrow the headlines will be about [Arsenal] not being in a good position in the table but I believe with those players, with Mikel, Arsenal will be Arsenal again.”